Cultivating a Grateful Heart

by Amanda Judah

 

For the past year or so, God has placed the value of gratitude on my heart. In the fast-paced atmosphere of Boston College, it can be easy to feel dissatisfied or disappointed with the minutia of college life. Sometimes it can feel like a competition between students to declare who is the busiest and accomplishing the most. If we don’t get a leadership position in a club or the grade we want, it can feel like our future is creeping along at a snail’s pace, while everyone else is racing forward.

However, I’ve learned that trusting in God’s timing means focusing more on the present moment and all the blessings that are around me. As much as I want to control every aspect of my life, the truth is that they are all gifts from God. I’ve found getting outside and seeing nature firsthand to be incredibly fruitful. Before the chill of New England winter arrives, seeing the leaves changing around the reservoir reminds me that I inhabit such a small part of the world, and there is beauty to be discovered around every corner.

 

I’ve also realized the truth behind the statement, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Social media has made it much easier to compare every- one’s outer lives: their relationships and accolades are directly on display. However, it doesn’t show the truth of our daily routines and struggles. I’ve always found myself to be most at peace the days I ignore my phone, and so I recently went on a social media fast. When I caught myself worrying I’d “missed something,” I reminded myself that I’d make the deepest connections with others by actually communicating, or hopefully seeing them in person. While I couldn’t avoid FOMO entirely, I found that I hadn’t missed any information of true substance.

Despite my best efforts, there are still times when gratitude can be difficult. I’m fortunate to have mostly only encountered small bumps in the road of life, but even these can easily cause me to be ungrateful. I wonder if God is withholding something good from me, even as much as I want to trust in His plan. I tend to fixate on these “problems” instead of reminding myself of the other aspects of my life that are going well. Even if I can’t stop myself from becoming irritated or sad over something that’s happened in my life, I can try to balance out these emotions with gratitude.

 

For readers looking to cultivate their capacity for gratitude, I recommend making it a daily practice. I try to journal every day and include aspects of my day that brought me joy, whether large or small. In an effort not to take relationships for granted, I send words of encouragement to my friends. While I’m sure I overlook many aspects of my routine that I could be grateful for, looking for new aspects of my life to love certainly makes the process more life-giving.

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